Hating to go to races on my own, and of course infinitely preferring some friendly competition, I want to highlight the available Scottish hill racing competitions – specifically focusing on the Long Classic Series in the hope that I can inspire as many people as possible do more hill races next year.
As the club has road, trail and hill Grand Prix’s, there are a variety of [Scottish] Hill racing championships each year that people might not be aware of – here’s a quick summary of this year’s championships and races.
2016: Clachnaben, Jura, Eildon 3 Hills, Creag Dhubh, Merrick and the Pentland Skyline
Based on 4 best results – 1 race needed from short, medium and long + 1 other
SHR Under 23s: Something for Micheal and Julie for 2017???
2016: Dumyat, Clachnaben, Eildon 3 Hills, Creag Dhubh and Merrick
Based on 3 best results
Bog and Burn series:
2016: Kaim, Beinn Dubh (Luss), Whangie Whizz, Dumyat, Kilpatricks, Cort-ma Law, Red Moss Kips, Ben Sheann, Law Breaker, Maddy Moss, Cairn Table and Caerketton
Based on 6 best results
2016: Donard-Commedagh, Merrick, Sedbergh Sports and Pedol Cwm Pennant
Based on 3 best results
and then there is of course the Scottish Long Classic series.
Ever since trying the Pentland Skyline for the first time in 2006 and failing (miserably – I was distraught) due to cramp, I have treated these long races with great respect and apprehension but nevertheless keep coming back for more.
There are now 10 races that make up this series and an individual’s final results are based on their 5 best races:
Stuc a’Chroin (22kms, 1500m) April
Slioch (20kms, 1180m) May (2016: route change due to floods)
Isle of Jura (28kms, 2370m) May
Trotternish Ridge (26kms, 2000m) June
Arrochar Alps (25kms, 2400m) July
Ben Rinnes (22.4kms, 1520m) July
Glenshee 9 (33kms, 1800m) August (2016: shortened due to weather)
Ochil 2000s (33.5kms, 1400m) August (2016: new longer route)
Two Breweries (30kms, 1500m) September
Pentland Skyline (26.6kms, 1890m) October
I cannot remember if it was after Stuc a’Chroin or on the way up to Torridon for Slioch, when Duncan and I decided that this year we were going to try and get our 5 races in the bag. I have tried before but mainly due to injury always missed out by one. Increasing the number of races needed from 4 to 5 two years ago also made it harder.
There are many blog posts about most of these races which you can find on the Harriers blog so I will not go into any specific detail. From my personal experience, from easy to hard, I would order the races thus:
Ben Rinnes: although sounds long, this is a very runnable race. A good start to the Long Series and the Dufftown Highland Games is perfect to keep the family busy while you’re out on the hills.
Slioch: The shortest race but very technical (and wet this year) which slows you down significantly.
Stuc a’Chroin: Another technical race which results in slower than expected times.
Pentland Skyline: Mostly good tracks, so not that hard compared to others despite its length/height.
Two Breweries: Lots of variety, but longer than Skyline. Trahenna is an awful sting in the tail.
Ochil 2000s: Very runnable but the length does make this a tough long race.
I have never run: Isle of Jura, Trotternish Ridge, Arrochar Alps or Glenshee 9. All sound rather tough to me (> 4.5 hrs) although I do have a hankering to go to Skye for the Trotternish Ridge next year.
Glenshee 9 alternates with the Two Inns (24kms, 1770m) which is another technical race which takes longer than one would think.
So we made it………Duncan ran 6 races while I managed to finally get my 5.
Duncan: Stuc a’ Chroin, Slioch, Trotternish, Glenshee 9, Ochil 2000s and the Skyline.
Moi: Stuc a’ Chroin, Slioch, Ochil 2000s, Two Breweries and the Skyline
Of the 764 runners who ran at least 1 Long Series race, ONLY 23 runners did 5 or more.
Points are calculated by: (winner’s time / runner’s time) x 1000. Higher is therefore better.
Duncan came 11th (751 pts average) in the series while I came in at 15th (708 pts average).
Gillian ran 3 races: 632 pts average (which would have been around 19th/20th place). Next year Gill 🙂 .
Full results here: http://www.scottishhillrunners.uk/Championship.aspx?ChampionshipID=C-006
Stuart, Mike, Jan, Tim, Billy, Andrea, Tracey, Mark and Gilly all ran 1 race.
A Rachael Campbell (of the Penicuik Harriers) is also down as having ran the Trotternish Ridge coming in just behind Duncan???? Rachel…….a hill running dark horse????
I love these long races. With a personal running limit of about 4 hrs (physical or mental??), I’ll never run an Ultra, but these longer hill races really do put you through your paces. They are a challenge no doubt, but there is generally a much greater sense of camaraderie compared to the quicker/shorter stressful events where everything is often rather rushed. I have made good friends on these races (a shared hardship??) and have quite a few nemeses which I try to keep ahead of. All of these races take you through spectacular parts of Scotland which one normally would rarely walk through – thinking of them as a journey (or even a quest?) rather than a race often helps with the mental battles when energy levels are low. The best post-race feed is definitely the Two Breweries (with free beer and loads of food) although Slioch is not that bad either. I hope more Harriers can be persuaded to run more of these next year. I’ll be bugging you.
Roll on 2017 – Stuc a’Chroin beckons.